Did The 120 Receive Holy Spirit Baptism Or Just The Apostles?



‘And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; And also, on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days’. Joel 2:28-29

‘But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel’. Acts 2:16

Any consideration of the themes contained in the Book of Acts must surely include the administration of the Holy Spirit. As Joel prophesied, the ‘last days’ would see the ‘pouring out of the Spirit of God’.

Peter, one of the twelve who received this ‘pouring out’ in Acts 2, confirmed that God had kept His word, the last days had arrived and the Spirit was thereby being given.

It’s notable that the apostles were never confused about the Spirit, His mission nor His medium, but confusion reigns today as every charlatan and huckster seeks to make merchandise of the Spirit of God. How fearful it is to consider the fate of those who do despite of the Spirit.


Luke confided to us that Jesus told the apostles. 

‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which YOU have heard me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days, YOU will be baptised with the Holy Spirit’. Acts 1:4-5

We find these promises, which were made only to the apostles, recorded in John 14.

‘But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach YOU all things and will remind YOU of everything I have said to YOU.’ John 14:26


‘But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide YOU into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell YOU what is yet to come.’ John 16:13


‘I am going to send YOU what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until YOU have been clothed with power from on high.’ Luke 24:49


‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which YOU have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days, YOU will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ Acts 1:4-5

It’s a mistake of major proportions both textually and contextually, to assign these promises to ALL disciples. When we read carefully, we will see that only the apostles were addressed. And it was only the apostles who received the fulfilment of the promise.


True to their Lord’s command, the apostles were waiting in Jerusalem. Just prior to the time when the Spirit was given, several brethren gathered to witness the selection of Matthias to replace Judas, Acts 1:25-26.

But it is a superficial reading that would appoint the 120 disciples, Acts 1:15 or the multitudes, Acts 2:6, at the place where the Spirit was given.

Please note that the last verse of Acts 1 states that Matthias was numbered, ‘with the eleven apostles.’ Acts 1:26. Then Acts 2:1 begins the statement, ‘And when the day of Pentecost was now come, THEY were all together in one place.’


Was it not the ‘apostles’ who are the antecedents of the pronoun in verse one?

Further, we can pinpoint who received the Holy Spirit, because the ones who received the Spirit spoke in tongues but Acts 2:7 informed us that those who spoke in tongues ‘were all Galileans,’ an obvious reference to the apostles.

Notice also that those who received the Holy Spirit spoke in different languages, Acts 2:4 but also notice that all those who spoke a different language were Galileans, Acts 2:7. In other words, all those who spoke in different languages were from Galilee, remember how the angel addressed the apostles in Acts 1:11, ‘Men of Galilee.’

Again, Acts 2:14 clearly stated that ‘Peter, standing up with the eleven’, note he didn’t stand up with the 120 and began to speak, it was ‘Peter, standing up with the eleven’ and the crowd recognised that only the apostles were speaking, Acts 2:11, ‘as the Spirit gave THEM utterance’, Acts 2:4.

But the multitude, Acts 2:6, didn’t come together until after the Spirit was given, so they couldn’t have been recipients any more than the 120 were, Acts 1:15.

‘THEY all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty)’. Acts 1:14-15

Many make the simple but possibly understandable mistake of thinking that because Acts 1:14-15 uses the word, ‘they’, and they read on to Acts 2:1 and Acts 2:4 they come to the conclusion that the word ‘they’ of Acts 2:1 and Acts 2:4 is the same ‘they’ of Acts 1. In other words, they believe it’s still the same group of people being mentioned in both chapters.

A closer examination reveals that was a different place they met and not the same day as the meeting we read of in Acts 1. Well, look more at this in a moment.

A closer look at the text

Consider the following by Carl A. Allen, he writes In Acts 1:2 the word Apostles is used and the ‘them’ in Acts 1:3 refers to the apostles. So, also, is the pronoun ‘you’ found in Acts 1:4. It’s said to the apostles, Acts 1:5, ‘for John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence.’

This promise is made to the apostles, we must remember that it’s a promise and not a command, Acts 1:4. Acts 1:3 says, ‘to whom he showed himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God.’

There were fifty days from the Feast of the Unleavened Bread to the Day of Pentecost, Leviticus 23:15-16. If he spent forty days, Acts 1:3, with the disciples, this would mean that there were ten days after he ascended to heaven, Acts 1:9-11, until the day of Pentecost, for the text says he ascended on the fortieth day, Acts 1:3.

It was during this time, the ten days, that the apostles returned to Jerusalem and selected one in the place of Judas, Acts 1:12-23.

At this meeting one is selected in the place of Judas, Acts 1:26, there were 120 people present at that meeting and witnessed the selection of one in the place of Judas. But after this is done there is still time left, during the ten days, till the day of Pentecost. This is the reason for the first verse of Acts 2 being worded as it is.

‘And when the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all together in one place,’ Acts 2:1

‘And when the day of Pentecost was now come,’ shows there was a period of time before the day of Pentecost. Now, we have another meeting and this meeting is for the purpose of the ‘Holy Spirit being given.’ In this meeting we have the words, ‘they,’ Acts 2:1-2,4, and ‘them,’ Acts 2:3-4, used. When a pronoun is used, we must take a look at the preceding noun. The preceding noun is found in Acts 1:26 and its ‘apostles.’

So, the ‘they,’ and the ‘them,’ has reference to the apostles who are named in Acts 1:26 and the pronouns follow in Acts 2:1-4 with the words, ‘they,’ and ‘them.’

In addition to this information one is compelled to note that a statement is made in Acts 2:1-4, ‘And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.’

The ones that were filled with the Holy Spirit were the ones who ‘spoke in other tongues.’ I cannot but notice that in Acts 2:14. Peter ‘standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and ‘spake’ forth unto them.’

The ones that ‘spake’ were the ones who were filled with ‘Holy Spirit’, Acts 2:4 and the ones that ‘spake’ were the ‘eleven,’ (Peter would make twelve): So it was the twelve that ‘spoke’ in tongues and it was the twelve that ‘spoke’ after the Holy Spirit was given; so we conclude that it was the twelve that received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

It’s interesting to note that what was taught was called ‘the apostles teaching.’ The teaching came from the ‘apostles,’ because they were the ones who received the Holy Spirit, Acts 1:26 and were the ones who were speaking, Acts 2:4 and the ones who were speaking was Peter with the eleven, Acts 2:14. Because of the word being delivered through the apostles, what they taught is called, ‘the apostle’s doctrine,’ Acts 2:42.

The apostles are referred to as the ‘Galileans,’ Acts 2:7. So, the Galileans spoke to the men of ‘Judea,’ Acts 2:14 and the apostles spoke to the men of ‘Israel,’ Acts 2:22 / Acts 2:36. One will observe that it’s the apostles who take the lead at the beginning of the Gospel of Christ being preached. It is ‘Peter standing up with the eleven,’ Acts 2:14.

When the people on the day of Pentecost heard the words of the men speaking, this is what they said, ‘Now when they heard this they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do?’ Acts 2:37

Please observe that the text says they said this to the apostles! If there were ‘120 people’ who received it, where is the statement that expresses their receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

The apostles continued to take the lead from the church’s beginning. They performed miracles, Acts 3. It is stated that ‘by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch,’ Acts 5:12.

Those that were being persecuted were the ‘apostles,’ Acts 5:40. When there was a need to select certain ones to take care of the widows who were being neglected, it is the “twelve” who called the multitude together, Acts 6:2. So, all of the emphasis is placed on the ‘twelve’ until you have a man designated as Stephen beginning to preach the Gospel in Acts 6:8.

Now, we are back to the ‘apostle’s doctrine,’ noted in Acts 2:42. The 120 people are not included because they did not receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, given in Acts 2:1-4.

Now, there may be those who claim the 120 receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but this cannot be proved from the New Testament! Only the apostles were baptized with the baptism of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:1-4 and that is what the New Testament affirms.


1. Water baptism is for ‘all Nations’ and is required of every creature who is subject to the Gospel. Matthew 28:19-20 / Mark 16:15-16 / Galatians 3:26-29.

1. Holy Spirit baptism was poured out once upon the apostles. Jesus promised the apostles that the Spirit of Truth which the world cannot receive, John 14:17 / Luke 24:46ff, would ‘guide them into all truth’.

2. Water baptism is a command of God. Matthew 28:19 / Acts 2:38 / Acts 10:48 / Acts 22:16.

2. Holy Spirit baptism was a promise of God fulfilled in Acts 2:4 and since coming into the world He is now available to indwell His people, Acts 2:38 / Titus 3:6. The Power was given to apostles, as the Spirit willed. Mark 9:1 / Mark 16:17 / 1 Corinthians 12:11.

3. Water baptism is an act of obedience and an act of man. Acts 2:38 / Acts 10:48 / Acts 22:16 and is ‘for the forgiveness of sins’.

3. Holy Spirit baptism was an act of God, not an act of man. Acts 1:5 / Acts 2:4, and was not for salvation, but given to confirm the word. Hebrews 2:4.

4. Water baptism is administered by men or by those doing the teaching. 1 Corinthians 1:14.

4. Holy Spirit baptism was to be given by Jesus. Matthew 3:11 / John 1:33 / Acts 2:4.

5. Water baptism is a condition of salvation. Mark 16:15-16 / 1 Peter 3:21 / Hebrews 9:14.

5. Holy Spirit baptism was not related to salvation.

6. Water baptism is ‘INTO the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit’. Matthew 28:19 / Acts 2:38 / Acts 8:14-16 / Acts 22:16 / 1 Corinthians 6:11.

6. Holy Spirit baptism had no formula because it wasn’t performed by man. Matthew 3:11.

7. Water baptism demonstrates the believer’s faith. Galatians 3:26-27 / Mark 16:15-16 / Colossians 2:12.

7. Holy Spirit baptism was not a human act and did not require faith. Matthew 3:11 / John 1:33.

8. Water baptism represents the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Colossians 2:12 / Romans 6:1-6.

8. Holy Spirit baptism had no such symbolism. It was the indication of the bestowal of ‘authority’ and the ‘power’ which accompanies authority. Acts 1:5 / Acts 2:4 / Acts 2:17 / Acts 2:38.

9. Water baptism is a baptism of repentance that is, it belongs to and grows out of repentance. Mark 1:4 / Luke 13:3 / Acts 19:4 / Acts 2:38.

9. Holy Spirit baptism came before the first Gospel sermon of Peter. Mark 1:4 / Luke 7:29-30 /Acts 1:5 / Acts 2:4.

10. Water baptism is a condition of cleansing from sin. Acts 22:16 / Ephesians 5:25-27 / John 8:31-32.

10. Holy Spirit baptism, came along after the apostles were clean by the word. John 15:3, not for cleansing but to confirm. Hebrews 2:4.

11. Water baptism puts one into Christ. Romans 6:1-4 / Galatians 3:26-27.

11. Holy Spirit baptism was poured out after the apostles were already in Christ and had been urged to ‘abide’ in Him. John 15:1-6 / Acts 2:1-4.

12. Water baptism was in order to receive the gift of the Spirit. Acts 2:38 / Acts 5:32.

12. Holy Spirit baptism was the one-time act of the coming of the Spirit into the world 1 John 2:2 / 1 Timothy 2:6 / Hebrews 2:9. Just as Jesus’ blood was shed as a one-time act but has an ongoing benefit for all. Power was to cease when the message was confirmed. 1 Corinthians 13:1-9.

13. Water baptism must continue even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20.

13. Holy Spirit baptism was a one-time event. No two baptisms were known after the Ephesian letter was written. Ephesians 4:5.


When we take the time to read the relevant Scriptures carefully, we read that Jesus promised the apostles that, ‘THEY’ would receive power from on high, when the Holy Spirit comes upon ‘THEM’. John 14:26 / John 16:13 / Luke 24:49 / Acts 1:4-5.

When we take a moment to understand the contrast between Holy Spirit baptism and water baptism, it’s clear that the promise, was a promise for the apostles only which means the 120 didn’t receive the Holy Spirit simply because like Christians today, they had never been given such a promise by Jesus.

There’s a huge difference between a promise and a command and today, sinners receive the Holy Spirit when they are obedient to the Gospel, at their baptism, Acts 2:38 / Acts 5:32.